Summer internships are highly sought-after positions for young students, especially those looking to stack their college applications with work experience.
The competitive nature of landing an internship means that most candidates are there to impress. That is exactly what one teen did when he landed his first internship with NASA and discovered an entire planet within three days of starting.
Meet The 17-Year-Old Responsible For Discovering A New Planet
Wolf Cukier is the teen at the center of the crazy story detailing how a high school student from Scarsdale, New York, was able to discover a whole new planet on the third day of his NASA internship.
Wolf joined NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland, for a two month summer intern position.
His Job Was To Analyze Data From TESS Planet Hunters Project
Wolf was analyzing data from a high-powered satellite called NASA's Transiting Exoplanet Survey Satellite (TESS).
The satellite data is collected and uploaded to the Planet Hunters TESS citizen science project where it can be viewed and discussed online.
"I Was Searching For A Planet That Orbits Two Stars"
Wolf's specific task was to view the satellite data and search for disturbances of light in any stars that might suggest the shadow of a planet passing in front.
The breakthrough came earlier than expected: "About three days into my internship, I saw a signal from a system called TOI 1338. At first, I thought it was a stellar eclipse, but the timing was wrong. It turned out to be a planet."
The Newly Discovered Planet Was Named TOI 1338b
"I took it to my mentor, we looked at the data from the stars and noticed two additional dips in light, so we started doing analysis to see if it actually could be a planet." Wolf's finding was significant enough that it required further analysis from a team of scientists. The team named the discovery TOI 1338 b.
TOI 1338 b is not just any planet though, it's a circumbinary planet. That means that the planet is orbiting around two stars, rather than the usual one.
The Alien Planet Orbits Two Stars (Just Like Luke Skywalker's Home Planet)
The discovery is TESS's first circumbinary planet — that means that it orbits two stars or suns. Wolf is aware of the similarities to Luke Skywalker's fictional home planet of Tatooine in the Star Wars series.
"It's very much like Tatooine, at least how the stars would appear in the sky," he says. "So, it would also have a double sunset."
The New Planet Is Nearly 7 Times The Size Of Earth
The planet is the only known one in the TOI 1338 system. It's approximately 6.9 times the size of Earth, sitting about between the sizes of Neptune and Saturn.
This planet is not likely habitable. Wolf explains that it is probable that the planet is extremely hot without a solid surface.
Bot Generated Images Predict A Beautiful Pink And Purple Planet
These computer-generated images of TOI 1338 b reveal that scientists predict the planet has a pinkish hue with beautiful swirling weather systems of purple, blue, and green.
Naturally, the internet totally freaked out over the opalescent-looking planet and shared their comparisons to similarities on earth.
Harry Styles Looks Completely Comfortable On An Alien Planet
This Twitter user shared a still image from Harry Style's video for Two Ghosts in response to the planetary discovery.
"That is where Harry filmed the visuals for Two Ghosts..." they wrote. Seems like a few celebs may be drawing inspiration from the stars.
This Color Would Look Great In A Bath
Twitter user @browntweet0y thought the new planet resembled a pretty bath bomb.
In response, @growitheflow35 said if they wanted a similar look they should go look in the street for a nice oil slick.
NASA Uploaded An Educational Video On The New Discovery
If groundbreaking planetary discoveries are interesting to you, check out NASA's video detailing the discovery of the new planet TOI 1338 b.
After the attention on Wolf settled, he revealed that he's headed to university after high school. "When I'm there I'm planning to study physics and astrophysics," he says. "From there, a career in space research is appealing." Hopefully, NASA holds a spot for him in the future!
Homeless Teen Student Graduates As Valedictorian With Perfect Attendance And Straight As
Griffin Furlong was not dealt a great hand in life. After losing his mother to leukemia when he was only six years old, Griffin's father struggled to work and raise his children.
The family's financial hardships ultimately pushed them into a long battle with homelessness.
The Family Was Homeless And Staying In Various Shelters With Poor Living Conditions
Griffin rotated through different homeless shelters in Kentucky with his father and brother for most of his childhood, eventually moving to Florida to seek financial support from extended family members.
He recalls what it was like going to sleep "starving," and how he remembers hoping he wouldn't wake up again. No child should have to go through Griffin's experience.
Education Was The Key To Breaking The Cycle Of Poverty
Instead of spiraling further into the debilitating cycle of poverty, Griffin decided he needed to do something with his life if he ever wanted to change it.
He knew one thing for certain: getting an education was the key to getting off the streets.
He Knew He Was Going To Stay Poor His Whole Life If He Didn't Get A Proper Education
In an interview with Today, Griffin comments, "I knew I was going to be poor for the rest of my life, so I thought if I could continue to do well in school, eventually scholarships would be coming my way and I would be getting a free education."
He says while at school he would use the computers to look things up and take advantage of talking to teachers. "I was aware of what I could do if I kept making good grades," he continued.
He Graduated Above Average With A 4.65 GPA And Was Awarded Class Valedictorian
As he began to navigate high school, even without a home to go back to each night, Griffin poured every ounce of his soul and energy into his academic performance.
He ended up graduating with an above-average 4.65GPA and also snagged the valedictorian award for his graduating class. It was what he said in his valedictorian speech that really caught his classmates' attention—and the world's soon after.
He Says He Performs At The Level He Does Because He Has Everything To Lose
In an interview given to ABC News posted on their youtube channel, Griffin read out a portion of his valedictorian speech in rehearsal for the actual graduation ceremony.
"I perform the way that I do in the classroom because I have everything to lose." The reason why completely shocked his teachers and fellow classmates.
Very Few People Knew The Extent Of The Problems Griffin Was Facing Outside Of School
He recited his honest and vulnerable speech, revealing to his peers that for the last decade of his life he has been homeless for the most part.
Griffin admits that it was challenging to reveal to his friends and teachers what was going on outside of school, sometimes living in shelters for years at a time. He witnessed terrible abuses and spent many nights hungry.
Griffin Was Homeless Again Two Months Before His High School Graduation
His most recent experience with homelessness came when his family was evicted from a rental unit, just two months before he was set to graduate high school. Fortunately, his girlfriend and her family were able to provide him with somewhere to stay until graduation.
Clearly, Griffin was still battling demons outside the school as he stood to deliver his address to his fellow classmates.
Despite Everything, He Had Straight A's And Perfect Attendance
In spite of the many obstacles and massive setbacks that Griffin faced, he never missed a single day of school.
His perfect attendance record was complimented by his diligence for turning in work and showing up prepared every day. One teacher praised Griffin as her only student to turn in every single assignment.
He Was Offered A Scholarship To His School Of Choice
After high school, Griffin has his sights set on attending Florida State University just like his older brother. He plans on majoring in engineering.
His hard work seems to have paid off because he was offered a scholarship to pay for student housing and is also hoping to secure academic scholarship money to help pay tuition fees. After his friends launched a GoFundMe campaign Griffin's story raised nearly $40k.
Griffin's Mantra Is "Never Give Up" Especially In The Face Of Adversity
Griffin's valedictorian speech ended with a message of inspiration: "Just never give up...Never let anyone tell you that you can't do something because I've been told that all my life. People would tell me I wasn't smart enough, and now I'm here at the top of my class."
"Never give up" is a phrase that Griffin started living by at a very young age. Now, he has made a habit of writing the words on the inside of his baseball caps as a self-reminder of what he is capable of overcoming.